Be glad you won’t have to file this under “things they didn’t tell me before giving birth”.
If your reading this, your due date is probably fast approaching. Your bags are packed, nursery is set up, you are ready to go! But have you thought about what happens after baby is born? Yes, there’s skin to skin and the first feed. But after all that, you’re going to have to pee. And that first post-baby pee is important.
First lets start with a little lady-anatomy. Starting at the front is your urethra which connects to your bladder. Then in the middle you have your vagina, then at the back is your rectum. All three are in close proximity to each other and make up your Pelvic Floor, and each can be impacted during birth.
So why is going pee after giving birth so important?
- Your birth healthcare professionals (OB, Midwife, and Nurse) need reassurance there was no trauma to your urethra and or bladder during the birth. Most often during a vaginal birth you may tear your perineum, the skin between your vulva and your rectum. Sometimes you tear upwards towards your labia, clitoris, and or urethra. These types of tears are not typical, but they can be difficult to repair and can be very painful after birth. If you pushed for a very long time, your genital area may be very swollen and that swelling may prevent you from peeing by closing off your urethra.
- Trauma to the bladder is a risk of cesarean section because the uterus and bladder are actually attached together by the peritoneum, which is cut during the operation to access the uterus. Like with any abdominal surgery, injury to other organs is a risk.
- And finally if you have a full bladder, your uterus cannot fully contract down after baby. After baby is born your uterus needs to clamp down to close off all those blood vessels that were attached to the placenta, like putting pressure on a wound. If your bladder is full, it pushes up against your uterus, preventing it from contracting properly and may increase your chances of bleeding more after birth.
What can you expect for your first pee after birth?
For a vaginal birth, you will mostly likely get up to the bathroom 1 – 2 hours after baby is born, once you are stable and your able to safely walk if you had an epidural. Your first pee will sting, especially if you tore or are swollen.
The hospital will most likely provide a squirt bottle for you to use. Fill this with warm water and squirt warm water on your vulva while you pee to help reduce the stinging. The next time you pee it should not be as painful.
If you cannot pee after a few hours, or if your bleeding increases because of your full bladder, you may need to have a catheter put in until the swelling goes down. You will be given Ibuprofen and ice pads to help.
For our cesarean mamas you will have a catheter in place for anywhere from 8 – 24 hours after birth depending on your medical situation and your doctors orders. Removing the catheter can be slightly uncomfortable, and after that you will be getting up to the bathroom independently. Like the vaginal birth, the first few trips to the bathroom might be uncomfortable from the catheter.
After giving birth, you may continue to have some concerns with your bladder. According to Niagara based Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist Marie-Eve Nackers, symptoms like stress incontinence, urinating more then 8 times in a day, suddenly feeling like your bladder is smaller, or urge incontinence, may indicate you’re having some postpartum pelvic floor issues. But it’s not all about pee – painful intercourse, back and pelvic pain, or continuing sciatic symptoms may indicate pelvic floor issues as well. Marie-Eve goes on to add “Kegel exercises isn’t the magic cure that everyone think it is. Kegel exercises are only good if you have incontinence with sneezing, coughing, laughing, or jumping. If you have any other symptoms, like urge incontinence or any kind of pain, Kegel might make the symptoms worse”.
If you have any of these concerns for anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks postpartum, Marie-Eve recommends to seek out a physiotherapist who specializes in pelvic floor health.
For more information and to help prepare for your upcoming birth, contact your local Mama Coach for a private or group prenatal class.